Republican lawmakers have expressed dissatisfaction with the work of FBI Director Christopher Wray, pointing to the law enforcement agency’s probe into Russia’s alleged 2016 US election interference.
Senator John Kennedy was quoted by The Hill as saying on Saturday that “we’ve got a problem at the FBI” and that “clearly, we had some people, and maybe still have some people, that don’t understand the rules of law, and nothing’s been done”.
"I supported the FBI director enthusiastically, and I like him personally, but his silence is deafening. The hits just keep on coming and it needs to be addressed”, Kennedy, who is also member of the Judiciary Committee with oversight of the FBI, pointed out.
He was echoed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who urged the FBI to “show more energy in terms of solving some of these internal problems”.
“I don't know why it took so long to get the information out about the Flynn case”, Graham told reporters on Friday.
John Cornyn, a member of both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, for his part, admitted that Wray is in the “hot seat”, but added he has “confidence” in the FBI director, expressing hope that Wray’s job was secure.
Senator Ron Johnson, in contrast, noted that he is “highly concerned” about Wray’s lack of reform within the FBI “and certainly not turning over the type of documents I think he should’ve turned over to Congress a long time ago; so, no, I’m very disappointed in his performance”.
This view was shared by Senator Mike Braun, who said that Wray had “been a little derelict” in addressing concerns from Congress and that the FBI director should be more transparent.
“I think if he's not, there's going to be increasing pressure, you know, for him to maybe move on down the road. I wouldn't be calling for it myself. But I think he puts himself in a spot where he's vulnerable”, Braun argued.
President Trump, for his part, told Fox News that Wray’s handling of the review of the Russia probe was “disappointing”, adding, ”let’s see what happens with him; […] it would have been a lot easier if he came out rather than skirting” the Russia probe-related inquiry.
FBI Praises Wray’s ‘Steady Hand’
FBI Agents Association President Brian O’Hare defended Wray, noting in a statement that the FBI director “assumed office nearly three years ago during a particularly challenging time at the Bureau – and he continues to lead through unprecedented challenges with a steady hand”.
This echoed the FBI’s statement touting Wray as a person who “remains firmly committed to addressing the failures under prior FBI leadership while maintaining the foundational principles of rigor, objectivity, accountability, and ownership in fulfilling the Bureau’s mission to protect the American people and defend the Constitution”.
WH Says FBI Intended to Manufacture Crime Against Flynn
The remarks came after White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a press briefing on Friday that the FBI may have manufactured a crime against POTUS’ former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, adding that it’s important to take the revelations in Flynn’s case seriously.
She spoke after the Justice Department dropped the criminal charges against Flynn on Thursday. His attorneys said last week that the newly-unsealed documents revealed that the FBI set up their client, and that Flynn had done nothing wrong and pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI only after the agency threatened to prosecute his son.
Flynn was prosecuted for lying to investigators about holding conversations with then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak in late 2016, including regarding the prospects for lifting US sanctions against Russia.
In July 2019, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller confirmed in his testimony to Congress that his team of investigators had failed to find sufficient evidence that could prove allegations of a conspiracy between the Trump team and Russia to rig the 2016 election, basically repeating the conclusions of his report which was made public in April of that year.
Russian officials have repeatedly rejected claims of US election meddling, saying they were made up to excuse the loss of a presidential candidate in the 2016 election and deflect public attention from real instances of electoral fraud and corruption.